There are different ways to check if a soldier is real or fake. This is important due to the growing number of scammers pretending to be US military personnel.
According to the US Army Criminal investigation command (CID), people continue to fall victim to scammers who pretend to be active duty soldiers or veterans. Therefore, knowing how to verify a US soldier can save you from being a scam victim.
The best way to check if a soldier is real is by using the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request form. This platform has provided American citizens with the opportunity to access federal records, including the military.
In this article, I will be giving an extensive step-by-step guide on how to check if a soldier is real or not, the limitation or exemptions, and other ways to spot a fake soldier.
Let’s get started.
How to check if a soldier is real
The best way to verify if a soldier is real or a catfish is to use any of the military verification services. Below are some of the best mediums and a step-by-step guide to help you as well.
1. Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request
One of the most accurate ways to verify a soldier’s identity is by using the FOIA request service.
It was established as a way of showing transparency between US citizens and the US government. However, there are a few exemptions or exclusions.
Federal agencies are required by law not to disclose information under certain circumstances. If any soldier’s information falls under the following category, they are deemed inaccessible. Some of these exemptions include;
- Classified national defense and foreign relations information
- Information prohibited from disclosure by another federal agency
- Trade secrets or information obtained from someone that is confidential
- Inter-agency memoranda that are protected by legal privileges
- Soldiers who had surgery or other health conditions that are confidential.
- Soldiers whose information was compiled for law enforcement purposes only.
Step-by-step guide on how to use the FOIA request
Step 1: Visit the FOIA page
Visit the official Freedom Of Information Act page and click on the “start your request” button. This should take you to another page where you are asked to type the agency that you wish to get info from.
After you have chosen the agency, you should be shown a contact email address, a number, and a name.
Ensure you write this contact info down as this is the contact mail you will be sending your request to.
Step 2: Fill out the contact information form
After copying the emailing contact, you are expected to fill out a contact information form. This is because the agency needs to know where to send the response to.
Step 3: Fill out the request form
After filling out the contact information form, you will find the request section. You must ensure that your description is clear and specific enough.
This ensures that the agency is able to determine exactly which records are being requested. Also, giving a detailed description might hasten their response time.
Step 4: Review Information and submit
After filling out the request form and answering some minor questions, review your info before submitting it. Afterward, you will receive a letter of acknowledgment.
Step 5: Wait for an update
After completing the process, you are expected to wait for a few days or sometimes a week for a response.
2. Search the National Personnel Records Center
Another effective way of checking if a soldier is real is by searching the National Personnel Records Center.
You can visit the center located in St. Louis, Missouri, or you can also access their archive online.
Step-by-step guide on how to request from the NPRC
Step 1: Visit the official website
Visit the National Personnel Records Center’s official website to access the request form.
Step 2: Download, print, and fill out the form
After accessing the website, download and print out a copy of the SF – 180 form. Afterward, you are expected to fill out this form carefully.
Step 3: Mail the SF – 180 form to the NPRC
After filling out the form, mail the SF – 180 form to the National Personnel Record Center. The stated address can be found at the bottom section of the website.
Step 4: Wait for an update
After submitting the form, wait for an update or a reply from the NPRC. This should take not more than 10 days; however, if it takes longer, feel free to fill out a status update form.
3. Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Another effective way of checking if a soldier is real is by using the DFAS platform. This agency was originally established in 1991 with the purpose of managing the DOD’s finances.
However, it has evolved into offering various other services. Using this medium, you can verify or get proof of military service for both on-duty and retired personnel.
Step-by-step guide to using the DFAS platform
Step 1: Visit the DFAS official page
Firstly, visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service official page. Next, click on the “garnishment” section, this should take you to another page.
Scroll to the “find it fast” section and click on “verification of military service.” Doing that, you would be redirected to the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SMCRA) page.
Step 2: Create an account
Click on the account section and create an account.
You are expected to fill out the required fields, create your challenge questions, and add your additional info. Afterward, you can proceed and log into the site officially.
Step 3: Submit a single or multiple record request
Click on the single record request if you are trying to get info on one individual or multiple records if you are requesting for more than one person.
Step 4: Enter all information on the form
Enter all the pertinent information in the required field and submit after.
Drawbacks to this method
Although it is very efficient, there are a few drawbacks or limitations to using this platform.
- You must possess the individual’s social security number.
- You must possess the individual’s date of birth.
If you do not possess one or, in some cases, both of these two, the search won’t work.
Other ways to spot a fake soldier
Aside from the above-mentioned technique, you can also spot a fake officer by;
1. Doing a reverse image search on the soldier’s picture
If you sense that a soldier is fake and is using a stolen picture, you can do a reverse image search on their pictures.
Simply go over to the google image page, click on the camera icon, upload the image, and search. If the image is stolen, you’ll most likely see the source of the image.
2. By asking more questions
If you suspect a soldier is not who he or she claims they are, you can question them further for clarity. Ask for video call evidence, or you can also ask to see their DD – 214 or military identity card.
What are the signs that a soldier is fake?
The following are some signs to detect a fake soldier;
- They can’t access their bank account
- They need help getting the money they claim is theirs in the first place
- They want you to hold on to a valuable package for them
- They need money to treat their family, pay rent, or feed
- They can’t video chat because they are in special forces
- They only use a personal email address
- Their social media account are thin and they claim to have no friends.
What do you do if you find out a soldier is fake?
If you find out that a soldier is fake, you can file a police report or report to the FBI and CID.
Do you have the right to check if a soldier is fake?
Yes, you do.
All American citizens possess the right to check if a military personnel is legit. Especially if the citizen suspects fraud.
What do you do if the FOIA doesn’t reply after a while?
If you sent a request about an individual without getting a report, you could reach out to them again. Simply enquire more about your request.
How do you know you’re dating a fake soldier?
You know you are dating a fake soldier if he asks you for money and refuses to do a video chat with you.
Why did you receive a message that the info is inaccessible?
It could be because the soldier’s information falls under the exemption category. Try to reach out to the agency again for further clarity.
Conclusion: How to check if a soldier is real?
If you feel that a soldier is not who he or she claims, you can check the national database to verify. Also, you can do some minor reverse checks on his pictures in other to gain clarity.
If you spot any fake soldier or a scammer impersonating another soldier, do well to report it. This way, further action can be taken to prevent others from falling victim to this scammer.
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